Also See WHEN "CHRISTIANITY" DENIES CHRIST (Below)
Christmas is going to fall on Sunday this year. That hasn't happened since 1994 and won't happen again until 2011. In years past, this might not have been much of an issue; but considering today's chummy Church of charm and chatter and the celebrated catapulting of all inconvenience, discomfort and offense from among the brethren; I would say the following question is in order:
Will your church be closed for Christmas?
The blind irony of it all is just magnificent; like the Chief Priests and Scribes not wanting to kill Jesus on the Passover. (Mark 14: 1-2)
It was brought to my attention recently by someone whose daughter was so disappointed by her church's decision to not hold worship services on Sunday, December 25th that she wrote her pastor in protest. After telling the young lady how much he loved her, this courageous Man of God actually chastised her for questioning the consensus; citing, among other things, the difficulty of rounding up day care workers on Christmas and the importance of being with family; adding pathetically that we really don't know what day Jesus was born on anyway.
I'm sure the Wise Men from the East and their enormous entourage could have come up with a lot better excuses than these for not following that Star through the night to worship the Christ Child; not to mention Noah, Abraham, Moses and David and all the logistical problems they had to endure in their worship and service to the Almighty; and the Apostles as they struggled through the remainder of their persecuted lives taking the Gospel to a strange and hostile world.
No, it seems this year many of us are going to honor that Blessed One who was born to be nailed to a Cross for our sakes and sins by taking our ease, trading our toys, watching our TVs and munching out en masse before happy nappy time.
"How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man." - Proverbs 6:9-11
I don't know about you; but I'm just glad the Lord has never been pragmatic; especially during that memorable visit to the Garden of Gethsemane where He sweat drops of blood over all that awaited Him while the leaders of the soon-to-be church, snoozed.
Well friends, it seems the church is spiritually dozing off once again; because if you haven't yet noticed, food, family, fun and fellowship have now become the new measure of all things Christian; and beginning this Christmas, officially more important than gathering on Sunday to worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth.
Take a look at all of the websites, promos, commercials, brochures, and bulletins of today's more popular churches in your community and notice, if you will, what they glorify and promote just in pictures alone. Chances are you'll see nothing portraying the terrible cost of discipleship and the inherent loneliness and suffering of the Christian that was so prevalent in the Early Church and throughout the New Testament; only very attractive and photogenic church members, models and musicians laughing, singing and frolicking about before the camera's lens as if following Christ was just another fashionable form of entertainment or recreation reserved for the beautiful, privileged, talented and well-to-do.
The Latter Day Saints have been selling themselves like this for years - hiding their heresy behind a friendly facade of family, familiarity, amusement and marketing; like craftily using The Bible and its touching stories on television to promote The Book of Mormon as if the two go hand in hand. No wonder their churches are growing like weeds!
Baptists call them a cult; yet, when The Purpose Driven Life is presented as a companion to the Bible by a Southern Baptist pastor and his publishing company, it is proclaimed a miracle of God because of its wondrous bounty of tasty tares! And, I have no doubt that just as many newly converted Mormons, as Purposites would be ready and willing to tell you how much their lives have been dramatically changed and transformed by the writings of Joseph Smith, as those who credit Rick Warren for his teachings.
"Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn." - Matthew 13:24-30
From a pragmatic perspective, I suppose it's really not all that strange that today's church, being big business now, would be closed on Christmas Sunday considering they're run these days by CEOs and consultants rather than under-shepherds and bondservants, except that more and more big businesses are opening on days once set aside for worship; point being, the sacred and the secular are trading places leaving the world around them morally and spiritually confused.
Unfortunately, when you muddy the "rivers of living water" for fun and profit, you're not left with much to drink.
"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." - Hebrews 10:23-25
© 2005 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved
WHEN "CHRISTIANITY" DENIES CHRIST
The Domesticated 'Christian Message'
"We have been dosing our people with religion when what they need is not that but the living God" Frederick D. Maurice
I recently watched part of a typical Christmas Eve Midnight Service which was broadcasted on British television.
The service was set in a grand and sumptuous cathedral with a large congregation. A decision had obviously been made to go for a populist approach and so there were several notable UK television personalities to be seen in the congregation.
It soon became obvious that six or seven of these personalities were going to give various brief messages; they were not scriptural readings but mostly appeared to be either written by the personalities themselves or were quotes from poetry.
As the service unfolded it suddenly occurred to me that one can have various messages about Christ and God, even enough to fill a one hour televised Christmas service, and yet none of those messages truly comprise the Christian Gospel! Here, then, was a domesticated Christian 'message' full of inspirational quotes and comments, often (though not always) about Jesus and yet despite the Christmas setting and the story of the birth of Jesus, the Gospel was never even once clearly represented! There was absolutely no sense in which this programme attempted to call men and women to repentance in the face of the reality of Christmas, rather, here was the story of a good man whom we may aspire to by doing good deeds in our lives, and the whole programme proceeded in that rosy glow. Here, then, was the representation of a domesticated God; a politically-correct Jesus who smiled on all the faiths (one of the television personalities spoke of our need to accept 'all faiths' and not be prejudiced towards them), here was a warm, sentimental 'house-trained' Jesus who would offend no one!
See The Heart of The Matter...Sin, Repentance and Salvation
Also What Was The Message of Jesus
As I listened to this, I could not help thinking of the many things which Jesus said which would not have been allowed to upset the hunky-dory, sentimental warmth of this programme;
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves" (Matt 7:15)
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord', shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven" (Matt 7:21)
"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword" (Matt 10:34)
These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me" (Matt 15:8)
Later on, Paul would write,
"..Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:17-18)
And James would write,
"Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:4)
Of course, such Scriptures have to be held in balance with those Scriptures which teach us to reach out with the Gospel to the poor and afflicted and to be prepared to go into the world with that message; yet the Scripture is very clear:
We must, as Christians, separate ourselves from this world and from 'worldliness', only then are we qualified in God's sight to go back into the world with the Gospel message. But we need to be clear about the composition of the Gospel message:
REPENT OF YOUR FORMER ALIENATION FROM GOD AND ACCEPT JESUS CHRIST AS YOUR SAVIOUR ON A PERSONAL LEVEL; COMMIT THE REST OF YOUR LIFE TO CHRIST THROUGH PRAYER, CHRISTIAN SERVICE AND BY LEARNING MORE ABOUT HIM (THROUGH BIBLE STUDY), THEN SHARE THAT KNOWLEDGE THAT CHRIST IS THE ONLY SAVIOUR OF MANKIND WITH OTHERS!
I find that a growing number of modern Christians struggle to correctly define just what comprises the substance of the Gospel, but we should all be clear about it; how can we present the message to others if we cannot correctly define it?
We must not reduce the dynamic message of Jesus Christ to just another religion. The great Swiss theologian Karl Barth, said, 'Religion is unbelief'; actually, the moment we list Christianity as one of the world's religions, we deny the message of Jesus Christ!! Of course, it is inevitable that those whose minds have never been opened to the truth of Christ, will consider His message just another religion, but it is not.
All the world's religions depict a concept of a God who can be approached by us and we can come into His favour by doing various good deeds/religious duties, but Christianity never teaches such a message. The truth is, God is too far above us for us to approach Him and all our own works of "goodness" and "righteousness" are nothing more than filthy rags in His sight; yet this God has so much love for us, that HE CAME DOWN TO US, IN ORDER TO MAKE CONTACT! No other religion presents such a picture!
We should be greatly saddened that 21st century western society so often upholds Jesus Christ as just one religion among many others and that many of our churches uphold a religion which is about show, ornamentation and ritual and a sanitised message is preached which effectively domesticates God lest any should be offended; in the process, of course, the true Christian Gospel is rarely preached since our permissive and liberal age considers the true message of the Gospel to be too confrontational! The result? Salvation is effectively 'shut up' and concealed from the people, indeed, a people who need to hear that message so desperately!
So as I watched this Christmas service, I felt a growing sadness and despair that for the overwhelming majority of the audience, nothing was being said or done which might disturb the picture that Christianity is no more than one religion among many. I am not going to judge the leading UK television personalities who were involved in this sentimental programme, but it is well known that one of them is keenly interested in New Age and various areas of the psychic, others undoubtedly would not claim to be Christian either. No, the readers were television personalities, purely and simply which is why they were there. Perhaps, if the fully biblical Gospel had been suddenly and unequivocally preached, these people would have been shocked, stunned and perhaps offended! Yet what great good the message would have done for the television audience who, without doubt, are rarely - if ever - exposed to the life-changing message of the Gospel!
Copyright Robin A. Brace, 2003. UK Apologetics.